Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Texas students don't need to take 15 exams

April 17, 2013 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated April 16, 2013 at 11:17 p.m.

We've said it once, and we'll say it again: Quality education is one of the most important tools a person can have. In Texas, recent trends in standardized testing suggest the current system equates more standardized testing with better quality, which is not necessarily the case.

Over the past few years, controversy has risen steadily. Now, with the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, students must pass 15 end-of-course exams to achieve high school graduation. According to the Education Commission of the States, that is the highest number of exams in the nation. The next closest is Virginia, which only requires students to pass six tests to graduate. Our state requires students to take two-and-a-half times as many tests as Virginia, yet Education Week gives the overall Texas education system a C+ and Virginia a B.

This overemphasis on testing is a major concern, and we are glad to see advocacy groups such as Raise Your Hand Texas taking a stance and encouraging legislators to reduce the unreasonable number of tests our students are forced to take.

Under the current system, students spend 28 to 45 days out of the 180-day school year testing, according to the nonpartisan group Save Texas Schools. That's 15 to 25 percent of the year spent assessing students for what they should know instead of allowing time to thoroughly teach concepts and ensure students understand what they are learning. This system forces educators to teach to the test, which hurts students in the long run. Tests, for the most part, end when students graduate from high school and college, but the skills learned while in school are what really matter.

In the current state legislative session, lawmakers are examining options to cut back on the number of tests students would be required to take. We think this is a necessary step that could improve both school accountability and the quality of education by allowing more time to teach and learn.

We applaud the Legislature for considering this step and encourage our lawmakers to continue pushing for reasonable reform in the testing requirements for Texas students. We do ourselves and our children a disservice by allowing this inefficient system to continue.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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